DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> Saratoga Spa Park Friends


The Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park


Welcomes you to

The Saratoga Spa State Park


wrap text around imageThe Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park are continuously involved and working with park managers and employees to achieve continual improvements in the Saratoga Springs spa Park. The Friends again participated at the I Love My Park event this year working and also serving hot dogs and beverages to the other volunteers. Long established Friends' projects include continual improvements to the clay tennis courts, the historic "Vale of Springs" upgrades, restoration of the historic Ferndell Spring as part of the park's renewal of the Ferndell Trail, renewal of old park pavilions and work to preserve the history of the mineral springs and the mineral baths that made Saratoga Springs famous. A mineral springs tour and walking lecture conducted by one of The Friends' directors is among the educational programs offered seasonally at the Park.


Relaxation - Spring Mineral Waters - Golf - Tennis - History

Saratoga Spa State Park offers the space and facilities in every season for individuals and families to enjoy outdoor activities in a great relaxed environment. The park's varied terrain offers numerous picnic areas, shady streamside trails, suitable for the nature-lover or the casual walker, as well as certified running courses used by joggers and high school and college athletes. Winter activities include cross-country skiing on approximately 12 miles of trails, ice skating, ice hockey.

The Saratoga Spa State Park offers two beautiful golf courses - a championship 18-hole course and a challenging 9-hole course, complete with a pro shop and a restaurant.

The park is distinguished by its classical architecture combined with the diverse cultural, aesthetic and recreational resources. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the park is known for its mineral water drinking springs, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa along with the park's multitude of traditional outdoor recreational opportunities. Summer pleasures include the classic Victoria Swimming Pool, the Peerless Pool ideal for families and the Geyser picnic area with expanded children's play areas for 2013.



Geyser Creek



Hiking & Walking Trails



Polaris Mineral Spring



Victoria Pool



Peerless Pool Waterslide



Gideon Putnam Hotel




Published by

The Friends of

Saratoga Spa State Park

19 Roosevelt Drive

Saratoga Springs NY 12866-8004

copyright 2013



Contact The Friends by Email




The Friends' Officers, Directors & Partners

Position to be filled, President

Stephen Miller, Vice President

Tom Buckley, Secretary

Dan Blanchfield, Treasurer

Philip Henzel, Director

Janette Kaddo Marino, Director

Nini Gridley, Director

Aime (Trent) Millet, Director

Don Nichols, Director

Richard O. Aichele, "Friends" Website Manager

Michael Greenslade, Spa State Park Manager

Allison Schweizer, Park Environmental Educator




Saratoga Spa Park in the 1930s





About the Spa Park

CLICK the Links below for past articles.



Spa Park Springs Water Analysis




Hathorn Spring No. 3

and The Friends' Logo




Karista Spring Restoration




The History of the

Geyser Park Mineral Springs




The Vale of Springs Restoration










YOU can support

this landmark park.



CLICK HERE - for the

Membership Application








Download Maps of Saratoga Spa State Park




View Spa Park Trail Map

CLICK The Links of Interest Above




parknewwalk2On June 1, 2013, a major expansion of walking and biking trails in the Spa Park was completed. They also connect with trails outside of the park. New maps of the trails / paths will be posted here once available. The results of the park's investment and work is impressive. Check back for the new maps.







It's the park for people of all ages

with varied interests

to enjoy.
















The Polaris Spouter Attracts All


wrap text around imagePolaris Spouter is not only an attraction for human visitors to Spa Park but also the park's wildlife that enjoy the waters. To the right of the spouter is a Blue Heron that is a regular visitor. Aime (Trent) Millet took the photo in mid-September as he conducted one of the regularly scheduled walking tours of the Saratoga Spa Park's mineral springs. "The Heron has been around a lot and is usually fishing in the lower Geyser Creek or flying along the creek up as far as the stairway and then flies back along the upper path to the lower areas around Polaris Spring," he explained.



The Polaris Spouter Spring

by Aime (Trent) Millet


The Polaris is a delightful spring. Whether there is a child placing his foot on the spout to spray his friends or a group of visitors enjoying the taste of its tangy waters, either straight or mixed, Polaris is a welcoming water. The Polaris Spring always seems delighted to dance in the sunny or gloomy days to greet those who approach it!

Polaris is one of the most popular mineral waters in the lower park. It is natural seltzer type water, known to make wonderful smoothies since they come out very smooth with just the right touch of effervescence. I have met a number of people who have said things like, "I make my kids Kool-Aid out of it," or, "Instead of soft drinks I mix Polaris with grape, strawberry or other juices for my family." I always respond with, "Thank you, and that's great!"

Polaris and similar waters may indeed offer considerably healthier options compared to many of the popular cola beverages. Related areas of interest include the possible affects of liquids including mineral waters and cola soft drinks consumed on maintaining long term healthy pH levels of approximately 7.45 pH considered important to reducing bone density loss.

"Naturally" Carbonated water - which Polaris along with many of Saratoga's water's have been believed by many lay people over the past century to assist in maintaining good health including such areas as blood pressure when used as part of a medically supervised health program.

Polaris as a mineral water is on the lower side of the medium level of mineral waters containing 3260 parts per million (PPM) of total dissolved solids. In comparison, State Seal Water, the clear "plain" water so many people are seen collecting in the lower park near Polaris and across from the auto museum is 175 PPM. Hathorn #3 spring, just inside the Route 50 entrance to park's East - West Road, is 16,407 PPM approximating the strength of sea water.

Polaris Water is low in salts (Sodium), Potassium, Bromide, Magnesium and several minor minerals, not high in Calcium or chloride and does not contain Manganese or Strontium. It is high in Lithium (natural lithium, not to be confused with the manufactured artificial type), iron which explains some of its health qualities and silica which explains the smoothness of smoothies made from it. The combination of the natural iron and silica is believed responsible for its reputation as having skin softening characteristics as with the Lincoln water of Roosevelt Baths. Natural iron is known to be vastly superior to supplements for maintaining the body. wrap text around image The natural CO2 properties are many and its low salt/sodium content may be compatible with low salt diets. Polaris Water is on the lower end of medium in radium and it should be noted in sources reviewed by the author that 90% of the literature by doctors and professionals on natural radium state it has amazing beneficial health properties in non full-time amounts.

Currently, no existing medical or therapeutic records of Polaris Water being prescribed by medical professionals for specific ailments have yet been located. However, it has been accepted by many residents and visitors during the past century that Polaris Water is among the types of mineral waters that may assist in maintaining good health.

Polaris is the first spring visited on my Spa Park mineral springs tours. I always feel like the spouter Polaris is the ancient playmate of my inner child as it dances happily like a giant drinking fountain. Which is also exactly how many people use it.


The Polaris Spring in Winter - ice encrusted but always flowing. (February 2013)




xfrontdoor2Roosevelt Bath II - Candidate for Architectural Adaptive Re-Use

by Richard O. Aichele


Adaptive Architectural Re-Use has been the solution to preserving many old structures from the past and returning them to useful uses today. It is also the method of reserving and restoring architecural details that could be lost by demolition or careless major rebuilding projects. In Saratoga Springs, New York, the January 2010 Master Plan For Saratoga State Park proposed restoration of the historic Roosevelt II Bath House structure. The work will include environmental upgrades including asbestos removal, structural , installing new Internet compatible technologies and interior work plus new heating, ventialtion and air conditioning equipment. One intent was to make the structure practical for new uses such as park offices, meeting rooms or partial use as a nature center.

However, more recently, based on the success of the Roosevelt I Bath House as a first class spa facility, future related health and fitness uses of the Roosevelt II Bath House possibly including the traditional potential beneficial advantages attributed to the park's mineral spring waters are also being suggested for consideration. With the park's increasing popularity for sports, running, walking and other healthy activities including the mineral baths at the Roosevelt I Bath House, planners may be able to utilize the Roosevelt II Bath House to support those activities.




Saratoga Park's Springs Water Analysis & History of the Geological Evolutions


The evaluations of the Saratoga Springs Spa Park nine springs has been completed by The Friends and the results are on this website. It will allow visitors that wish to sample the springs to compare the elements and radicals that are contained in the mineral spring waters and the non-carbonated State Seal and Ferndell springwaterss.

CLICK HERE Test Results and the Springs' Evolution




Ferndell Trail's New Bridge Installed

by Richard O. Aichele


wrap text around imageA major project upgrade of the Ferndell Trail was completed on June 21 with the entry into service of the new bridge over Ferndell Creek at its eastern upper area. The new bridge is close to the site of the former Ferndell Spring that was once famous for its low mineral content drinking water.

The new bridge is just over 13 feet long with an overall width of 8 feet to accommodate today's increased walking and running users that enjoy the trail. The railings were designed to recreate the historical visual ambiance of the long gone smaller original historic railings structure that had dated back to the early 1920s. Melding yesterday's artistic approaches with today's use demands to achieve long-term consistent results is always an interesting challenge.

The new bridge structure was designed by Christopher More, senior environmental engieer, with the Saratoga Spa Park's engineering staff. The under bridge support structure uses the latest environmentally-friendly pressure treated wood. The bridge railing's and decking used ISA, a well-suited natural high density long-life timber product. Construction of the bridge under-structure and railings was carried out by the Friends of Saratoga Spa Sate Park's volunteers. wrap text around imageThe bridge pre-fabricated units were then transported to the creek for installation and final assembly by park employees and The Friends volunteers.

Ground preparation, removal of the old bridge's concrete supports, lifting the under bridge structure into final position and later stone fill work was done by Moy Enterprises of Greenwich, NY. The new bridge's in-ground Helical Pile Supports that were bored into the ground at precise points to support the bridge structure were installed by Techno Metal Post of Albany, New York. Representing today's construction technologies, the Helical Pile Supports are as high-tech as yesteryear's original concrete supports of the old bridge that had lasted almost 100 years. Some of the old concrete bridge foundation at the west end of the bridge was retained to help stabilize the soil against errosion.

wrap text around imageWith the project almost completed, this photo by Christopher More shows Phil Henzel, Jim Kettlewell and Richard Aichele from The Friends pleased with the work just completed on the new bridge. It had been a well-coordinated operation by the Park's staff, outside contractors and The Friends volunteers.

When the trail reopened, a few trail users were heard to express appreciation later that afternoon that the trail was closed to the public for only 36 hours.

Another walker commented: "I noticed coming down from the top of the trail something was new. I think this bridge is great!"





The Ferndell Trail is located between the North - South Road at the trail's eastern end and the Geyser Loop Road at the trail's western end. The trail's entrance at the North - South Road is across from the golf course and just south of the Ferndell Pavilion's parking lot entrance. The trail's western entrance is across Geyser Loop Road from the picnic area and just south of the Polaris spouting mineral spring.





The Ferndell Trail's Natural History Time Line

by Richard O. Aichele


wrap text around imageThe Park's work along the Ferndell Trail earlier this year removed a number of trees to allow more light to enter the trail area and to remove some trees that were considered possibly being a hazard. One of the trees, located just west of the new bridge, that had over the years increasingly leaned toward the south and the sunlight was also taken down but the stump shown in the photo remains and will become a interesting site along the Furndell Trail where visitors can trace history.



A tree's age can be determined by counting the number of rings visible after a tree is cutdown. Each ring represents one year of tree growth. The different spacing of the rings over times is generally due to varying climatic conditions over a trees lifespan including temperatures and periods of sunlight, food sources for the tree from the soil it is growing in and the amount of water the tree receives from the ground. Interestingly with his tree, from the center of the rings, the area of the tree facing toward the south and the strongest sunlight grew more than three times more in tree trunk thickness than the opposite side of the tree facing north and away from the sunlight.wrap text around image

Click for expanded view and historic timeline.




Ferndell Fountain and Trail Restoration Progresses

by Richard O. Aichele


The on-going program to restore the Ferndell Fountain as part of the Spa Park's Ferndell Trail restoration and improvement proram continues to require significant historical research, environmental planning and engineering. The most recent "boots on the ground" cooperative work by a five member team from The Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park and Spa Park's staff to restore the Ferndell Spring Fountain made significant progress on May 2, 2013. The team for this project was made up of Spa Park employees Mark Holmes, plumber - steamfitter, his assistant Michele Topper, along with Philip Henzel, Stephen Miller and Richard Aichele from The Friends.

The location of the fountain has been long known since several concrete steps of the original 1920s era fountain still exist. However, the actual original fountain vanished over forty years ago. The Ferndell Spring's well-head was preserved several years ago by enclosing it in a cement block enclosure. One challenge to restoring a fountain's operation was that within that Ferndell wellhead enclosure were five pipe connections, plus an approximately 5 inch diameter pipe across the trail at the wellhead was discharging a large quantity of clear water steadily the source of which was unknown.

wrap text around imagePhilip Henzel (photo left) fitted a flexible pipe connection and piping designed to measure the hydrostatic pressure of the five inch pipe discharging water. At the same time, the water level within the spring enclosure was monitored. Combined with another test in which Mark Holmes closed off the flow of the five inch pipe to see the affect in the well-head resulted in concluding the well-head and that five inch pipe were not connected and that it was not the water source for the old Ferndell Fountain. That test of water pressure of that pipe's flow was determined but its source was still unknown. That pipe may be a drain from another now unused possible Ferndell Water spring whose actual location is presently unknown. That possibility may be explored further in the future.

Work continued within the well-head itself to systematically eliminate each pipe penetrating into the well-head as being a possible connection to a length of copper tube located further west in the Ferndell Creek along the Ferndell Trail in the general area of the old fountain's original location. The copper tubing It had been discharging a smaller amount of clear water even throughout the winter without freezing. 050213mark At the end of the day's work session, the team had positively located the old Ferndell Fountain's actual water pipe connection in the well-head source and its remaining supply piping that was underground and partially buried in the creek bed.

Stephen Miller, vice president of The Friends, explained that, "Time has not been kind to this non-carbonated, non-mineral spring that was bottled and marketed under the name Saratoga Soft Sweet Spring Water during the early and mid 1900s." Restoration of the Ferndell Fountain was advanced with the May 2nd well-head work. At the same time, The Friends, working with Spa Park's management have made plans to order a new replacement fountain that will match the original 1920s fountain design as much as possible. A bid proposal is being prepared for the new fountain.




The Aesthetics of the Greatest Buildings at the Saratoga Spa State Park

by James K. Kettlewell


wrap text around imageWhat is the greatest and most moving work of art that one can experience in the entire surroundings of Saratoga Springs? Quite simply, the marvelous architectural composition at the Spa State Park, which includes the Hall of Springs, the Theater and Administration Building, the two Roosevelt Baths, the sculpture on the buildings, and the grassy mall and reflection pool that lies between. To walk into this composition consciously, and to look around carefully at its beautiful and strongly stated forms, is like walking into a symphony by Beethoven. And there actually is, as you will see if you read on, an important association with musical composition.

We talk all the time about the history of the Saratoga Spa buildings, their architects and their purposes - you can read about it in my book-- but we never quite talk about the buildings themselves. Yet how they appear in their wonderful setting is the most important thing about them. After all, you can house major bathing facilities in a former factory, as was done when the Spa first opened in 1915. The great drama of the present architecture, the temple fronts, the sweeping rhythm of the arcades, the wonder of walking in the arcades with their powerful perspective plunges into depth, these are extraordinary things to experience. Like any art, the more you know about the design sources, the more rich and complex that experience becomes.

The architect Joseph Freedlander, who designed the buildings and the overall plan of the park in the early 1930's, would have been quite aware of these sources. He was a sophisticated graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, the leading architectural school in the world at this time. Of course there is not enough space here to mention all the design marvels in these buildings, but there is room enough for a consideration some of the basics. The primary source, is Andrea Palladio, the Late Renaissance Italian architect, and his Villa Emo of 1559, near Venice in northern Italy. It is where the overall composition was derived from, of a colonnaded temple front climax flanked by long arcades. The immense influence of Palladio's architecture in America can be instantly recognized in the use of these temple fronts on public buildings and houses, beginning shortly after 1800, and continuing even until the present time. Palladio's influence in this country was do to the many editions of his 1570 publication, The Four Books of Architecture, referred to in almost every builder's handbook of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Palladio is everywhere in these buildings. In the interiors of the arcades, the space before the entrances is demarcated by Palladio's famous motif, the "palladian arch," in which an arched opening is flanked by free-standing columns. More subtly, one of the delicious features of these buildings is the use of Palladio's method of aesthetically calculated proportions, in which the intervals between heights, widths and depths are based on the intervals between the notes of musical chords. Palladio developed this system of proportions working with the great Venetian musical theoretician Giuseppe Zarlino. The whole purpose was to achieve an ideal beauty in the architectural design. Though how this proportionate system can be applied here would take too long to explain, an explanation is not necessary. One can feel it, as one feels it without actually understanding it, the proportions in the smashing climax of Beethoven's Fifth.

wrap text around imageContrasting with the massive facades of the two buildings are four smaller pavilions providing lesser climaxes in each arcade. Around the upper part of each of these pavilions, on a band of cast stone, is a delicate rhythm of stylized waves symbolizing water, refers to the waters of the Saratoga Springs. Above are panels extolling the history of Saratoga in verse, from a poem written in a charmingly naive style by the Reverend Reuben Hyde Sears, pastor of Ballston Center church, and published in Ballston Spa in 1819.

But then there are aspects of the design which are patriotic references to American traditions. The brickwork is quite beautiful in its own right, imitating the brickwork of Colonial Williamsburg. Like most Colonial brickwork it was laid in the characteristic "Flemish Bond" manner, with alternating header and stretcher bricks in each course, but here with the Dutch inflexion of randomly spaced burnt headers. This Dutch connection introduces appropriately an association with New York's early history. King William III of England, who Williamsburg was named after, was, like the brickwork, from Holland. Also referencing Williamsburg are the steep roofs of the main buildings, covered in greenish slate, and the circular windows, the signature of King William's leading architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Wren probably provided the design for William and Mary College, the first building erected at Williamsburg.







Expanding the Hemlock Trails Reach

by Don Nichols


The Hemlock Trails are probably the least used trails in the entire Spa State Park because they are off by themselves approximately one half mile east on Crescent Avenue. Although actually a contiguous part of the park, this area is separated from the main park areas by South Broadway (Route 9) but has its own parking area. This area of the park is heavily forested in most areas and show signs of having been cleared at some time for farming. The stands of pine, spruce, fir and of course hemlock some of which may be original give the feel of the "forest primeval." Very beautiful. Hardwoods such as grey birch, beech, oak and plenty of maple are also in great abundance.

wrap text around imageBecause of small streams and some standing water, the trails have many small bridges most of which have been repaired by volunteers and park workers. More work is planned to maintain the trail's bridges in top condition again using both park employees and volunteers. The photo shows one of the new replacement bridge decks.

This area's upgrading can develop it into a growing area of park activity as Saratoga Spa Park visitors increasingly discovering this primevial area. The three interconnected trails each of which are quite different offer varied opportunities to exploring this part of the park. The White Trail is along the eastern side, the Blue Trail in the center and the Green Trail in the south area. The south area is where the park's management plans to add several more trails in the future. At least two new trails are planned off the Green Loop that will extend Hemlock well south of the current trail area.

Saratoga Spa Trail Map




The Saratoga Spa Park is the place for people of all ages and all interests to constantly discover or rediscover something new.




The Friends' Website is growing to Serve You better.

Please Revisit This Website Soon and Often.